The Shulamite

Posted on: April 2, 2015

Nessa was thirteen years old when she was baptized by her handsome youth pastor in a country club swimming pool. That afternoon, she bought her very own Teen Study Bible that included bright colored articles about abstinence and honoring your parents. Nessa took it with her wherever she went, including Ruby Tuesday’s after church on Sundays. For some reason it made her father feel like he couldn’t have a beer with his meal.

Her boyfriend Stephen lived on the other side of the Internet in Oregon. He was the one who lead her to accept Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior one night after they had cyber sex in a private chatroom. Stephen loved Jesus so much, sometimes he’d cry when they talked on the phone late at night after Nessa’s parents went to bed. She didn’t care that he was so much older than her. She was really mature for her age. He was praying about whether or not to get his GED, but if that didn’t pan out, he’d keep making swords.

Shortly after being baptized, Nessa made a habit of playing Christian worship songs while lying on the floor in her bedroom, staring at the ceiling as she imagined dancing on the beach with Jesus. She loved the sound of the CD beginning to spin, and the words would push the tears out of her eyes. She would do this for hours because she wasn’t allowed to go out, and Stephen wasn’t around. Jesus was her best friend, her only friend. He wanted to give her the desires of her heart, and she wanted to give them to Him.

One night, she read Song of Solomon from the Old Testament. The introduction in her Bible said it was a love story about King Solomon and a beautiful woman, but it was really a metaphor for our relationship with Jesus. Nessa figured she should start thinking of Jesus not only as her Lord and Savior, but as her lover, too. Sometimes, she would lie in bed late at night after using up her calling card to phone Stephen, feeling a little turned on, thinking about how perfect Jesus is. He would know how to hold her, how to touch her, how to kiss her. He would say all the right things and treat her right. But then she would cry a little because she knew that Jesus loves everyone else just as much, and He would never be just hers.

It was awkward having a boyfriend who lived so far away. Nessa envied the couples holding hands on the way to class, the quick peck on the lips. When she felt alone, she would remind herself that Jesus is always with her in her heart. She would pray for freedom from a covetous spirit, for wisdom and discernment to be a good girlfriend, and one day a wife. Stephen told her they were already married in God’s eyes. That’s why it was okay that they had phone sex. Nessa was really grateful that Stephen knew so much about pleasing the Lord and doing what was right in God’s eyes.

When she masturbated thinking about Jesus, Nessa felt conflicted. Stephen was spiritually her husband, but so was Jesus. Should she feel bad? Should she tell Stephen? Was Jesus mad at her? She imagined being Mary Magdalene, sitting at His feet and listening to Him tell her everything about God the Father. She imagined His piercing blue eyes and long brown hair falling over the shoulders of His crisp, white tunic. Nessa imagined kissing His feet, then Jesus reaching down and caressing her face. She imagined Him whispering in her ear, “Come to me. My yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

But then she knew it was becoming a problem when all she could think about was sex whenever the pastor preached on Sundays. Nessa’s palms would sweat as she bit her lips and tried to push the thoughts out. It was so hard not to think about sex all the time. Stephen was always talking about how excited he was to have sex with her one day, and boys at school would tell her it was so hot that she was still a virgin. Nessa had been reading Genesis over and over again because somebody was always “knowing” somebody else and women were seducing their fathers or getting raped by men from other tribes. Faith was no escape from the onslaught of careening hormones, whether they belonged to her or someone else.

Nessa told Misty, one of the leaders in her youth group, about having phone sex with Stephen. Misty was really upset and told Nessa to confess it to Jesus, but they never talked about it again after that. On a mission’s trip, Nessa was fond of her counselor Lauren, and told her about her sexual thoughts. Lauren sat and prayed with her, saying Jesus forgives her for everything. When Nessa told one of the pastors at her church about masturbating while thinking of Jesus, he said there is no condemnation under the blood of Christ, then kissed her on the mouth. She didn’t tell Stephen about that.

One night, Nessa dreamt about heaven. She sat at a farm table covered with bread, cheese, and fruit as Jesus served her wine. Out the window she could see a beautiful vineyard and sprawling green hills. She no longer felt the sinfulness of her sexuality, and she was finally with her beloved. How many nights had she asked Jesus for this? When He sat down next to her, she took His hand and turned to Him, her knee touching His.

“I know this is a dream, but can I stay?” she begged.

“No, Nessa. Your time isn’t finished.”

When she woke up, she went to the bathroom and sat down to pee, resting her chin in her hands. Nessa saw her razor sitting on the bathtub ledge and realized she would have to take heaven by force.

Written by: Natasha Akery
Photograph by: Rob Gregory

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